holiday spirit

I’m working hard on Christmas gifts. I’m trying to avoid the last minute purchasing spree because all the crafts I had planned never got made. So, so far, I’ve completed two quilt tops, one back and binding – ready to be sandwiched, one waiting to be ironed.

I’ve also finished cloth napkins for everyone. These are about 8″ x 10″ – one fat quarter makes two. I’ve got enough here for six different families :) This is one part of my “green” Christmas, where everyone gets a reusable grocery bag and cloth napkins. And maybe something else – but I haven’t decided what yet. Any ideas? Here are my napkins:

cloth napkins

Thanks to Unspeakable Visions for providing this fun naughty and nice list for planning gifts. I love it! Also, thanks to the Handmade Holiday 2008 group on flickr for keeping me honest and inspired. I do still plan to give a few Oxfam gifts this year though – if you haven’t been on Oxfam America Unwrapped, you should check it out. Lots of great gift ideas – especially for people who have everything!

Just a note about those cloth napkins. I instituted them at my own house about six months ago, and I thought they might be a pain, but actually, they’re awesome. First of all, I love to use them – they get softer and softer with each wash because they’re made of good quilting cotton. Second, they make me feel fancy, even when I’m eating ramen. Third, we have been using the same roll of paper towels for about 4 months now – and it’s still over half full! When they’re dirty, I set them on the washing machine, and they just get thrown in with whatever load I’m doing. If they get too stained with spaghetti sauce or whatever, I’ll just make some new ones, but so far, they are perfect. I highly recommend them for everyone! Reduce – Reuse – Recycle!

Sustainable Christmas

Trying to live green? I know we are, and it’s not always easy. I’ve been looking for some different ideas and best practices, and here are a few ideas:

Reuse wrapping paper, gift boxes and gift bags. If the paper is too wrinkled, use it as packing material to pad your presents. Doesn’t that sound festive? Use other things for wrapping paper – like newspaper or fabric. Ask department stores for their gift boxes, and then don’t wrap them at all. Have your kids color on them. Or cover them with Christmas stamps (like rubber stamps) or stickers.

I have this big coloring/painting pad that my almost-two year old colors in. I tear out the used pages and use them as wrapping paper. Let’s face it, he’s really just scribbling, so I’m not going to save every sheet in a scrapbook, and this is a nice treat for the grandparents.

The biggest point here is to try to reuse anything you can, and to be sure to recycle any paper products you receive.

This year, save the holiday cards you receive, and then cut their covers off, and reattach them to cardstock to make your own cards. You could get really creative here by cutting out specific shapes or words and attaching them to the cardstock with dimension dot stickers, paint on them, add glitter, etc. I think that would be a fun project for kids.

I read an article on treehugger.com about how plastic Christmas trees can be harmful because they are generally made of some sort of plastic that is dangerous and harmful to create, and they leach toxins after a while. They recommend getting live trees from sustainable growers.

Finally, there are new options for Christmas lights available. LED Christmas lights use 80-90% less energy than incandescent lights and can be reused year after year. They really should be a part of any sustainable holiday celebration. Now, you can find LED Christmas tree lights, Warm white LED Christmas lights and Outdoor LED Christmas lights.

We can all reduce our carbon footprint a little. The holidays are a great time to start. For more ideas, check out this article:9 Things You Can Do to Make Your Holiday Greener.